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30 April 2014, 07:34
Doctors are expected to perform a caesarean section on a mentally-ill woman from Sunderland after a High Court ruling.
Mr Justice Hayden also said the woman, who's 36 weeks pregnant, could lawfully be sedated
He made the ruling following a hearing at the Court of Protection in London late yesterday.
A health authority in Sunderland had asked the judge to declare a caesarean section lawful.
Doctors said the woman, who is in her 30s and has a schizophrenia-like psychotic disorder, had a liver condition which posed a risk to her and her unborn baby.
They said delivery by caesarean section was in the best interests of both.
And they said it was not clear whether the woman would agree to having a caesarean section. The woman's father agreed with doctors.
He told the judge that his daughter was in "such a state'' that a "normal birth'' would be "far too stressful'' for her.
A lawyer appointed by the court to represent the woman also agreed with doctors. Mr Justice Hayden said there was "compelling evidence'' that the woman lacked the mental capacity to evaluate medical advice.
The judge said there was also compelling evidence that if well she would put her unborn child's interests first and follow medical advice.
He was told that the woman's mental health problems were intermittent and that she was a graduate who had built a successful career.
Doctors said they aimed to deliver the baby today.
It was planned that the woman's parents would initially care for the baby, the judge heard.
But he was told that doctors hoped that her condition would improve so that she could assume responsibility.
Mr Justice Hayden said nothing could be reported which would identify the woman. But the judge said the health authority which had made the application to perform surgery - City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust - could be named.
The Court of Protection is part of the High Court and judges analyse issues relating to sick and vulnerable people.